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Secondary Education


After the age of 11, most children go to comprehensive schools of which the majority are for both boys and girls.

About 90 per cent of all state-financed secondary schools are of this type. Most other children receive secondary education in grammar and secondary modern schools.

Comprehensive schools were introduced in 1965. The idea of comprehensive education, supported by the Labour Party, was to give all children of whatever background the same opportunity in education.

At 16 students in England and Wales take GCSE examinations. In 1988 these examinations replaced the GCE and O-levels which were usually passed by about 20 per cent of school students. GCSE examinations are taken by students of all levels of ability in any of a range of subjects and may involve a final examination, and assessment of work done by the student during the two-year course, or both of these things.

Some comprehensive schools, however, do not have enough academic courses for sixth-formers. Students can transfer either to a grammar school or to a sixth-form college to get the courses they want.

At 18 some students take A-level GCE examinations, usually in two or three subjects. It is necessary to have A-levels in order to go to a university or Polytechnic.

But some pupils want to stay on at school after taking their GCSE, to prepare for a vocational course or for work rather than for A-level examinations. Then they have to take the CPVE examination which means the Certificate of Pre-Vocational Education.

In Scotland students take the SCE examinations. A year later, they can take examinations called Highers after which they can go straight to a university.

Secondary education in Northern Ireland is organized along selective lines according to children’s abilities.

One can hardly say that high quality secondary education is provided for all in Britain. There is a high loss of pupils from working-class families at entry into the sixth form. If you are a working-class child at school today, the chance of your reaching the second year of a sixth-form course is probably less than that for the child of a professional parent. Besides, government cuts on school spending caused many difficulties.

Public Education: Historical Review

The history of education in the United States has certain peculiarities which are closely connected with the specific conditions of life in the New World and the history of the American society.

The early Colonies and different politics of education for the first settlers who came to North America from Europe in the l7th century brought with them the educational ideas of the time most typical of the countries they represented. In Virginia and South Carolina, for example, education was entirely private. The children of the rich either had tutors or were sent to Europe for schooling. Many of the children of poor parents had no education at all. In Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York many of the schools were set up and controlled by the church.

In Massachusetts, which was much more developed at that time, three educational principles were laid down: I) the right of the State or Colony to require that its citizens be educated; 2) the right of the State to compel the local governmental divisions, such as towns and cities, to establish schools; and 3) the right of the local government to support these schools by taxation.

At the very beginning, school buildings were often rough shacks. They were poorly equipped with a few benches, a stove, and rarely enough textbooks. Discipline was harsh, and corporal punishment was frequent.

The program of studies consisted largely of reading, writing, basic arithmetic, and Bible lessons. Since each community was responsible for solving its own educational problems, there was no attempt to find a common standard of excellence. Even the Constitution of the United States, ratified in 1789, contained no direct mention of education.

The schools of the early 1800s were not very different from those of the pre-revolutionary period. Some historians consider that they actually deteriorated in the three or four decades following the American Revolution, for the new country turned its attention to the development of its land, cities, and political institutions.

And yet, in attempt to generate interest in education, a number of communities continued founding schools. Some classes were opened to children for secular instruction and a number of schools for poor children which were a forerunner of the public schools in several major cities. Some States tax-supported schools and urged their spread.

The purpose of the public or “common” schools was to teach the pupils the skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. No particular religion was to be taught.

By the middle of 19th century, the desire for free public education was widespread. But the States could not find enough means for its financial support. It was during those years that communities began to support the schools within their boundaries. The States finally required local school districts to tax themselves for that purpose through the “real property” tax. This tax originated as financial support for public schools, and remains today the major financial resource for the public school system in the United States though it can no longer carry the entire burden.

Towards the second part of the 19th century compulsory attendance laws came into effect, starting with Massachusetts in 1852. Now in most States the minimum age at which a pupil may leave school is sixteen; in five States seventeen; and in four States eighteen.

As has already been mentioned, education remains primarily a function of the States. Each State has a board of education, us 3 to 9 members, serving mostly without pay. They are either elected by the public or appointed by the Governor. The board has an executive officer, usually called a State school superintendent or commissioner. In some cases he is elected; in others he is appointed by the board.

In theory, responsibility for operating the public education system is local. Schools are under the jurisdiction of local school board, composed of citizens elected by residents of the school district. In fact, however, much local control has been superseded. State laws determine the length of the school year, the way in which teachers will be certified, and many of the courses which must be taught.

Though the Federal Government has no powers at all in the field of education, from time to time Congress passes different Acts which help to “assist in the expansion and improvement of educational programs to meet critical national needs”. Such Acts provide money for science, mathematics, and language instruction; for the purchase of laboratory equipment.


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 3039

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